Published May 18, 2021

The decline and potential recovery of American influence abroad. Guidance about dangers facing young people. And the healing that comes from growing things.

“The U.S. withdrawal from an active role in shaping a global agenda created a void that China and Russia have been eager to fill,” says an L.A. Times op-ed co-authored by Rutgers University–New Brunswick history professor David Greenberg. Since this shortcoming in leadership occurred “to the detriment of American interests and values” and to the advantage of authoritarian regimes, Greenberg and his collaborator argue it is time for a new emphasis on human rights, both domestic and worldwide. The Biden administration, they say, should push “an agenda of expanding voting access and vigilance against election interference” to “bolster the fight against illiberal movements everywhere.”

The Los Angeles Times | Second opinion: “Grand strategy” has a bad rep. To fix it, go beyond hard power and traditional statecraft

A CNN article written by Lawrence Kleinman advises that we should continue wearing masks to protect children from getting COVID-19, despite the CDC’s new regulations. Kleinman RC’79, a public health professor and vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, explains that vaccinated individuals can still contract and spread the virus, which poses a danger to children. “To keep children safe, public policy should require both masks and distancing for individuals, such as teachers and caregivers, who interact with unvaccinated children,” advises Kleinman.

CNN | For the sake of children, keep wearing your mask

What about protecting children in other ways? Is it even possible to shield them from an increasingly violent world? An article in The Conversation quotes several experts on the topic, including Vanessa LoBue, assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University–Newark. “Helping children build resilience is particularly critical now, as Americans face…turbulence in daily life,” says LoBue. Emphasizing that children need support in validating and contextualizing their feelings, and that they must also be allowed to develop autonomy, LoBue adds that “parents, too, need to guard their mental health…Building resilience isn’t just kid stuff.”

The Conversation | How do I talk to my child about violence? 4 essential reads

Some students at a middle school in Camden County are gaining more than just knowledge about gardening through an environmental STEM curriculum. They’re also discovering the physical and mental health benefits of nurturing the earth, especially helpful after more than a year of COVID-19 stress. Joel Flagler CC’74, a county agent with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, tells The Courier Post that gardening is a sensory experience that can calm the mind and body. “There is predictability,” Flagler says. “When you plant a Swiss chard seed, by golly, in 26 days you’ll have Swiss chard. During this very unsteady time, [gardening has] been an amazingly therapeutic experience for a lot of people.”

The Courier Post | You’re grounded: How school gardens are helping kids’ COVID anxiety

TIME features Jordan Casteel’s God Bless the Child painting on the front cover of the magazine’s special issue, Visions of Equity. Casteel, an associate professor of painting at Rutgers–Newark, says her artwork helps build a relationship between herself, the people she encounters and knows, and her environment. “It is important that our narratives expand,” says Casteel, “that the narrative around my work not be narrowed to my identity.”

TIME | Meet the artist who created God bless the child, featured on TIME’s cover

To be allies, people must educate themselves about the history of their privilege and how it may have played a role in providing opportunities that others haven’t had, says Nyeema Watson CCAS’00, GSC’15, the vice chancellor for diversity, inclusion, and civic engagement at Rutgers University–Camden. “It’s important for all of us when we see wrong to say it and speak up about it because somebody else may be in that room that needs your support,” she tells The Asbury Park Press.

App. | How to be an active ally every day in workplaces, schools

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